5 Ways to Apply Herzberg’s Motivation Factors

October 13, 2017 | Thought Pieces

5 Ways to Apply Herzberg's Motivation Factors

Get employees to move by upgrading your incentives programs

The word motivation comes from the Latin word that means ‘to move’.

Aside from making sure employees are satisfied with their jobs, another concern for employers is how to get them to move. In our previous blog post, we’ve laid down the basics of Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory of Job Satisfaction: how hygiene factors and motivation factors contribute to an employee’s affective reaction to his/her job.

See related: From Theory to Practice-Improving Employee Job Satisfaction

When salary, working conditions, interpersonal relations, supervision, and company policies are covered and secured for the employee, companies can keep them from being dissatisfied. However, Herzberg’s Model emphasizes that what these hygiene factors do is prevent employees from feeling negatively towards their work, but not necessarily to inspire them to feel positively — and that’s where Herzberg’s motivation factors come in.

While the hygiene factors cover job context, motivation factors relate to job content. In this regard, “throwing money at the problem” wouldn’t work. Increasing salary and benefits may make employees feel secure, but that drive to perform comes from the work itself, a possibility for growth, advancement, recognition, achievement, and responsibility.

Here lies the difficult part: motivation factors are less tangible and therefore trickier to provide. How can employers craft programs that can effectively move employees?

One of the many insights our consultants share with companies we work with is how Industrial/Organizational Psychology theories are applied in executing HR programs. Now we share five simple ways to apply Herzberg’s motivation factors to be more strategic about incentivizing:

1. Advancement

Herzberg’s model suggests that employees have to feel an upward and positive change of status in the organization to be satisfied (Alshmemri, Shahwan-Akl, & Maude, 2017). This does not necessarily mean that employers must give away promotions just to motivate employees! This feeling of advancement can be simulated through incentives programs that are tiered, which can be done by providing ‘levels’ in awarding.

2. Achievement

Employees are motivated when they feel like they accomplished something important and challenging (Alshmemri, Shahwan-Akl, & Maude, 2017). When companies forget to reward and celebrate big wins, employees don’t get validation for their successes. This decreases the likelihood of them going the extra mile next time.

3. Possibility for Growth

When provided with opportunities to undergo personal growth, employees become more satisfied with their jobs (Alshmemri, Shahwan-Akl, & Maude, 2017). One way to spruce up a traditional incentives program is by including learning experiences like seminars or conferences as reward options.

4. Recognition

Who doesn’t like receiving praise for good workplace behaviors? Managers do this privately through performance management talks, which keeps positive feedback between only two people. While some companies do this through employee of the month or year awards, which are given publicly but only on occasion. Peers don’t play a big part in most incentives programs and this is why most companies fail to maximize the power of social capital. Live leaderboards and peer-to-peer recognition are powerful components that can better frame incentives programs.

5. Responsibility

Employees gain satisfaction from being given the responsibility and freedom to make their own decisions (Alshmemri, Shahwan-Akl, & Maude, 2017). A core feature of both Flex and Ace is empowering employees to choose personally relevant and attractive products or services from an exclusive marketplace. By allowing employees to be responsible over their own reward item, companies make them feel that they’re trusted to spend their own incentives budget on what’s right for them.

Driving employees to move through incentives programs doesn’t seem as daunting now that we’ve laid down some of the things you can try in your company. The five we’ve listed down are merely places to start; there’s still much that can be done to motivate and satisfy employees. Taking a closer look at the job itself, for one, is a logical next step: employees who aren’t intrinsically motivated by what they’re actually doing aren’t known to perform on the job.

Another point we’d like to emphasize and leave you with is what Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory also drills down on: motivation factors won’t get you far if you haven’t covered hygiene factors. The model is two-pronged precisely because job satisfaction does not stem solely from extrinsic considerations like money nor does it rely on only intrinsic drives. By innovating on how both sides interact and balance out, companies can have satisfied employees — satisfied employees who move.


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